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Ministry of Health awards Medal of Distinguished Services to FCT President


On the occasion of World Health Day (celebrated on April 7), the Ministry of Health awarded the Distinguished Service Medal to personalities or institutions that have practiced acts of abnegation, charity, altruism, or beneficence, or have rendered relevant services to Public Health or Social Assistance.

The gold medal awarded to Miguel Seabra, President of FCT, is the recognition of his contribution to scientific research, namely in identifying the genetic and cellular basis of choroideremia, a hereditary disease of the retina, which leads to progressive blindness. The work led by Miguel Seabra, over 20 years, led directly to the first gene therapy for choroideremia. The clinical trial (phase 1) produced surprising and very positive results in the patients involved: several patients showed real improvements in their vision in twilight conditions, and two of these patients were able to read more lines on the optometric chart. The results of this study were published in the Lancet journal in January this year.

Besides the President, two members of the FCT Scientific Councils have also received Silver Medals for Distinguished Services: António Jacinto (Director of CEDOC - Center for Chronic Diseases, Faculty of Medical Sciences, New University of Lisbon) and Rui Reis (Director of Associate Laboratory ICVS/3Bs, University of Minho).

The World Health Day is celebrated annually on the initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO). This year the WHO warns about the risks of vector-borne diseases (mosquitoes, flies, ticks, etc.) such as dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever.